LETTER: The importance of the land question

2016-06-09 06:00

When we speak of the true liberation of black people, we refer to land. You do not speak of liberating the African people if you do not talk about getting back the land that was stolen from us. The land in which our roots are deeply entrenched, the land of our ancestors and children. 22 years into this so called free South Africa, black people are still landless and dispossessed. We are a nation that brags most about having the best constitution. The very same constitution (emphasis on chapter 25) that protects white privilege, and prevents black people from getting their land back, because disposession was made legal. The Bill of Rights makes no mention to the right of the black people to their land. After the Land Audit was conducted is 2013, it was a rude awakening of what a fallacy this democracy is. It revealed that the minority, white people, that constitutes 9% of the population, own 79% of our land. I can not stress the importance of land enough, when it is said that 90% of all wars that were fought in history were over land. The “willing buyer - willing seller” policy has got to be the most absurd thing ever. How can you buy back what has been stolen from you? It is that Land Act of 1913, that stripped the Azanian people off their livelihood when 87% of their land was confiscated. People who own land do not have to rely on other people for their survival. We rely on the anti-black government for RDP houses, when we know that RDP houses do not equate to justice. There is no substitute for our land. To us, the children of the Soil, land has more than economic value. As Dr. Christopher Zambakari once said, “Identity is linked to land, which acts as a source of livelihood, wealth, social peace and holds a ceremonial value.”We are a people of rich culture and tradition. For most ceremonies that connect us with our ancestors, a cow or goat has to be slaughtered. How are we to have healthy cattle when we do not have grazing land for them to feed. We used to stand on the highest peak on the mountains and call on our Supreme Creator to give us rain for our crops, now we have been removed from our sacred spaces and do not even have crops to pray for. When we had land, to us, rain was a blessing. Now, to us rain is a curse because it floods the slums we live in. Land and it’s people are inseparable twins. When land was taken away from us, we were stripped off our identity, our spirituality and dignity. Land was and still is the umbilical cord that connects us to our Supreme Creator. That umbilical cord was cut by foreigners and left us separated from the source of our existence. We now have to struggle for an identity, in that quest we have lost our dignity. Joram Nyathi once put it that: “Without land, there is no country and there is no point in claiming a country when it’s land is held by foreigners.” There is no rainbow in this nation, because there is no nation to begin with, just another fallacy that I refuse to subscribe to. The land question is as relevant today as tomorrow.

Miliswa Xuba Mandalay

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